The Hubble Telescope has gotten its first good look at Planet HD189733b, which is a deep cobalt blue in color and rains a glassy hail.
The planet is also known as “hot Jupiter” because of its proximity to its parent star and, while it isn’t capable of sustaining life as we know it–reaching temperatures of 2,000 Fahrenheit–scientists are interested in it because this is the first time they’ve been able to determine the color of a planet that circles a star other than the sun.
“Most colleagues in the field focussing on habitability concentrate on the detection of molecules in the infra-red, like water, carbon monoxide and methane,” Exeter University’s Frederic Pont said. “That’s useful information of course, but my opinion is that we might be giving too much weight to this compared to visible colour, which gives a different kind of information, but maybe just as crucial to understand the general state of an Earth-like planet. This planet has been studied well in the past, both by ourselves and other teams. But measuring its color is a real first — we can actually imagine what this planet would look like if we were able to look at it directly.”
The James Webb Space Telescope is set to launch in 2018 and will more than likely provide us with an even greater understanding of this planet, which is 63 light years away from Earth.